This article was last updated on March 30
[2020 CARE Stimulus update] See this article for the latest on the 2020 stimulus payments. SSI and Disability recipients are eligible for these payments if their overall earned income is below prescribed limits. Payments will be made to current accounts in which they receive current benefit payments.
[Prior/old updates] Congress officially nixed a one-time payment of $250 in 2010 to Social Security recipients who haven’t received cost of living adjustments (COLA) since 2008. The cancellation of a $250 SSI payment in 2010 was justified on the basis of low inflation (see update below). But many seniors are feeling the pinch of inflation, especially around medical services — a big-ticket item for seniors. Many believe that the $250 payment would have been a good economic stimulus payment, since there’s a good chance that most of the $250 would be spent immediately.
While many seniors could easily survive without the $250, there are also millions of seniors who are struggling to make ends meet (just see the comments below in response to this article), particularly if they have high medical or disability costs. Congress really should have found a way to provide the $250 SSI payment to those seniors who truly need the money, instead of tax cuts for the super-rich.
[Update Nov 2010] The Social Security administration recently announced that there would be no 2011 COLA increase, meaning the monthly SSI payments in 2011 would remain unchanged for the second year in a row. Clearly our senior citizens are being hit hard, which places more pressure on Congress to approve a 2011 Bonus SSI payment (supported by the Obama administration). With the hundreds of comments on this topic, people are clearly upset about not receiving the bonus SSI payment or a COLA increase yet again.
Fortunately, Ways and Means Social Security Chairman Earl Pomeroy recently announced that the House will take up the Seniors Protection Act when Congress reconvenes later this year [this measure was quashed]. The Seniors Protection Act of 2010 will provide a $250 payment to about 54 million Social Security recipients. Congressman Pomeroy introduced the bill, H.R. 5987, in July, and has since worked to ensure that this bill will be enacted before the end of the year. Congressman Pomeroy received assurances today from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin that this bill will be brought to the House floor and passed when the House reconvenes in November
Individuals receiving Social Security benefits have seen everyday expenses for drugs, medical care, utilities, housing and food increase while Social Security benefits have remained unchanged. Seniors and others receiving benefits face ongoing struggles to meet these costs given the modest level of their benefits, amounting to only $14,000 annually, on average.
“In this economy, seniors are struggling to make ends meet,” Congressman Pomeroy said. “Passing this bill will ensure that the lack of cost-of-living-adjustment will not jeopardize seniors’ ability to survive on their benefits. All Members of Congress should join us in supporting this legislation which will be fiscally responsible and upholds our bedrock promise of economic security for our nation’s seniors”
On a related topic, there is still a lot of confusion on past (2008, 2009) one time bonus SSI payments. The Social Security Administration (ssa.gov) site is responsible for making these payments and is where you should check the official status of your missing or late SSI payment(s).
Update : See the recently announced 2011 Social Security Income (SSI) Payments
[June 2010] Unfortunately the Democrat-controlled Senate has rejected a measure by a 50 to 47 vote that would have given seniors a one-time Social Security benefit payment of $250 to make up for the lack of a cost of living increase. The jobs bill, which contained the $250 SSI provision, was rejected despite President Obama’s backing. The payments which would amount to $13 billion, where earmarked in the jobs bill – which was deemed too costly by lawmakers trying to allay their image of big spenders.
The badly needed Social Security payments would have helped 57 million seniors, a risky number to overlook considering the fall elections and how badly incumbent politicians are viewed. This year marks the first time since 1975 that Social Security beneficiaries didn’t receive a cost of living (COLA) increase, which means an extra one-time SSI payment may become a reality later this year if a new jobs bill is introduced to further extend unemployment benefits or the COLA provision in President Obama’s budget is approved. See this article for the $250 Medicare Gap payment in Obama’s new health care reform package. Also see newly release details on the Tax Breaks and Credits in the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010
[Update Jan 2010] The additional $250 payment in 2010 is now also part of President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal, which means this payment could be received later, rather than earlier, since the budget needs to get congressional approval. Stay tuned for further updates.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced the bill (H.R 3557) on September 14, 2009 that would provide the $250 payment in 2010, detailed below, for an emergency Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for Social Security recipients. The bill has been has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means for review and should be put to a vote on the Senate floor in the next few months.
[Previous update] President Obama has proposed extending the 2009 economic recovery payment of $250 into 2010 by providing another payment of $250 to retirees, veterans and disabled people already receiving Social Security benefits. This additional payment will potentially be funded via the $787 Billion economic stimulus package and is expected to cost $13 billion in total.
“These payments will provide aid to more than 50 million people in the coming year, relief that will not only make a difference for them, but for our economy as a whole, complementing the tax cuts we’ve provided working families and small businesses through the Recovery Act,” Obama said in a statement.
President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to quickly approve the $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no cost of living increase in Social Security next year (according to the SSA which has cited negative inflation this year as the reason).
The new benefit would be $250 – or equivalent to a 2 percent increase in benefits for the average Social Security retiree beneficiary. Under the rules no person could “double dip” and receive a $250 Economic Recovery Payment through more than one program. Nor could they receive both an Economic Recovery Payment and the Making Work Pay tax credit.
The $250 payments would go to those receiving veterans benefits, disability benefits, railroad retirees and public employee retirees who don’t receive Social Security. Like the 2009 $250 payment, the additional $250 social security payment will most likely be paid out by the SSA and not count as income for SSI. To date Economic Recovery Payments have been made to 55 million people including seniors, veterans and people with disabilities and totaled $13.7 billion. Most of the checks were mailed out in May 2009.
To receive the $250 payment, the beneficiary’s address of record must be in a valid US state or territory. Only individuals eligible for Social Security, SSI, Veterans, or Railroad Retirement benefits at any time during the months of November 2009, December 2009, or January 2010 may be eligible for the extra payment. The $250 payment will be delivered in the same way your current Social Security or SSI benefit is sent.
In addition to this legislative proposal, the IRS and the Department of Treasury will take steps this week to prevent reductions in the amounts that workers can contribute to IRAs, 401(k)s, and other aspects of tax-favored retirement systems in 2010 that some feared could result from negative inflation over the past twelve months.